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Tale Time

A tale is a fictitious or true narrative or story, especially one that is imaginatively recounted.
Following are tales written by myself as well as others that try to stay true to the genre. If you wish to contribute just send your tale to rockasan1@gmail.com and I will review it for submission.

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The Tao of Coffee

Two scholars spent the better part of an afternoon in a local Portland Starbucks arguing the theories of Evolution versus Creationism. Getting nowhere, they took the advice of the Chinese guy working there and decided to drive to the beach near Astoria and visit a sage named Chung Lee who reputedly had the answers.

The following morning they left the city and headed west towards the ocean. Upon arrival, they spotted his ragged looking cottage hidden alone among the coastal dunes, parked off the highway and walked the short distance to it. Finding the cottage empty the two began to search around for a sign of old Mr. Lee when One spotted the old sage sitting not far away on a high dune facing out to sea.

The two made their way through the sand towards him. After approaching him they stopped for a moment to catch their breath when the old man who had heard them coming, turned, directed his eyes upon them and asked, “Where’s the coffee?”

The two became puzzled. “Sir, One said. We were told you could help us with the greatest philosophical dilemma of our age . . . perhaps even give us some insight into the conflicting theories.”

“Yes, of course.” Chung Lee answered. “But go now, next time you come, bring me a cup of Starbucks coffee, then we will speak of your theories.”

Early the following morning they checked out of their motel room and returned to the hill. One carried a large cup of Starbucks coffee that he’d purchased in town. After greetings, he handed the old sage the still hot coffee and sat in the sand beside his friend. They opened their portfolios, each anticipating a quick and decisive victory.

Chung Lee, while sipping his coffee, quickly went over each theory. He handed the papers back, looked out to sea and finished the coffee before he began to speak.

“The two theories of which you speak are mere disciplines, and although seemingly opposing views, upon deeper reflection they are one and the same. The difference lies in your interpretation and in your desire to understand the mystery. But alas, the mystery cannot be contained within a theory, so you are both beating your learned heads against a brick wall.”

Going on he said. “Each theory is merely a doorway, and theory can never explain the goings on within the room. You need theory to find the doorway, but once opened this very same discipline becomes your stumbling block. Theory will never reveal truth, only the pathway to it.

The two looked at each other, excused themselves and walked back to the car.

“This is a wise man?” One asked the other. “”He sends us for coffee, then he comes up with this gibberish?”

“Yes, it is strange,” answered Two. “Yet his reputation is such that there has to be something we are missing. Let’s give him a chance to prove himself.”

The two went back to where the old man was sitting. “Sir, excuse us, but neither one of us understands. What are we missing?”

The old man held up the empty cup. “This cup will always contain a mystery, but as you smell of it, sip of it, and enjoy the taste of it, you one day realize you don’t really care HOW Starbucks made such a good cup of coffee, you are just glad they did. And thanks be to the mystery, as long as there are people like you seeking to understand it, I will never have to worry about getting my morning cup of coffee.”

The old man dismissed them with a smile and returned his gaze to the sea.

END

 

Tao Te Ching (chapter 10)

good vs evil

Original version:

Can one unite the body and the spirit as one and embrace the “Oneness” without departing from the great Tao?

Can one achieve harmony with such gentleness by holding on to the true spirit within as if the innocence of an infant?

Can one free oneself from worldly knowledge and cleanse one’s mind, so that no faults shall be made?

Can a ruler love his people by governing with the natural Way without personal intention? Can the mystic gate to all life essence be opened or closed without the virtue of the mysterious nature?

Can one gain the insight of nature and become a wise person without the effort of action? The mysterious nature creates and nurtures all things without the desire to possess them. It performs with all efforts without claiming for credit.

It flourishes all beings without the intention to take control of. Such is the “Mystic Te” or “Mystic Virtue.”

 

My interpretation:

How hard is it for you to endure the weight of your own ego, while at the same time seeking to embrace the Tao?

Can you ever go backwards to early childhood, before you picked up all the bad habits?

Can you make it all new again by shining up the old ego, and presenting it’s sameness in a different light?

In your ego driven life, will you ever truly love the people under you more than the power you have over them?

Are you capable of being a nurturing boss?

Are you capable of realizing that without embracing the wisdom of the Tao you really aren’t too bright?

The Tao nurtures her children and takes no thought of ownership.

She acts on their behalf yet does not demand obeisance.

She, although being their steward, does not act like a boss.

All this is true virtue.

 

 

 

Tao Te Ching (chapter nine)

good vs evil

 

Original Interpretation:

Those who overly pride wealth is like the overflowing water which shall cause damages. It is better to restrain early.

Those who are not content with fame is like polishing the edge of a knife. The sharper it gets, the easier it is to break.

Wealth and treasures are but illusions that one cannot possess.

Those who are arrogant of their wealth and fame shall invite blame upon oneself.

 

My Interpretation:

Watch the ego, get too full of yourself and you will just make a mess of everything.

Don’t think the knife will remain sharp forever . . . it won’t.

Everything in the Known ultimately deteriorates.

Why be such a fool as to store your wealth in another man’s house, where it will just become a source of worry?

Why not release those chains of insecurity, and share your possessions with the needy while you can?

Then when you age and retire you will be at peace within the Tao and have no fear of death.

Tao Te Ching (chapter eight)

good vs evil

Original interpretation:

A person of great virtue is like the flowing water. Water benefits all things and contends not with them.

It puts itself in a place that no one wishes to be and thus is closest to Tao. A virtuous person is like water which adapts itself to the perfect place. His mind is like the deep water that is calm and peaceful.

His heart is kind like water that benefits all.

His words are sincere like the constant flow of water.

His governing is natural without desire which is like the softness of water that penetrates through hard rocks.

His work is of talent like the free flow of water.

His movement is of right timing like water that flows smoothly.

A virtuous person never forces his way and hence will not make faults.

 

My interpretation:

The Tao is like an oasis in the desert. Her waters provide an endless source of nourishment to all life forms.

To a home she provides the foundation.

To the mind she guards us from foolish thoughts.

She teaches us the way of kindness when dealing with others.

In speech she teaches us to guard our tongue and speak in a simple, direct voice so as not to confuse anyone with double talk.

In government she teaches us orderliness and humility of purpose.

In all our affairs we must call upon her wisdom.

She teaches us not to put off till tomorrow what we should do today.

The Tao never forces us into a corner in such a way that we could blame her for our silliness.

 

 

Tao Te Ching (chapter seven)

good vs evil

Original interpretation:

Heaven is everlasting and earth is enduring.

The reason that they are everlasting is because they do not exist for themselves. Hence, they are long lived.

Thus, although the saint puts himself last, finds himself in the lead. Although he is not self-concerned, finds himself accomplished.

It is because he is not focused on self-interests and hence can fulfill his true nature.

 

My interpretation:

Heaven and Earth will exist forever because they are the known presence of the unknown Tao. (God)

The wise man understands the meaning of “oneness” therefore as he quietly remains in shadow, his spirit dances in the sun light for all to see.

Tao Te Ching (chapter six)

good vs evil

original interpretation . . .

Spirit of the valley is immortal.
It is called the mystic nature.
The gate o f the mystic nature is regarded as the root of the universe.
It is everlasting and cannot be consumed.

my interpretation . . .

The Yin mother never dies.
Her home is in the valley.
Her womb is the birth place of all thingsit will never dry up.
Mother Yin eternally woos Father Yang from his place of light upon the mountain top.
For it’s in her valley where he plants his seed and learns the meaning of the Tao.
This endless cycle is what keeps man rooted to the Earth. 

Is not the earth a school house and pathway to the gods?

 

Tao Te Ching (chapter five)

good vs evil

Original interpretation . . .

Nature nurtures all things with the wholeness of complete virtue.

It shows the greatest and perfect kindness by giving life to let all things grow and accomplish them with the hastening of harvest.

Therefore, according to ancient custom, nature may seem unkind to regard all beings as a traditional straw dog for sacrifice.

And likewise with a saint, he may seem unkind to regard people as a traditional straw dog for sacrifice.

The space between heaven and earth is like the bellows, it appears empty yet it gives a supply that never fails;

The more it moves, the more it brings forth. Many words lead to exhaustion.

It is better to center on the true essence within.

My interpretation . . .

Creation, though seemingly ruthless at times, has a joyous plan for all living things.

There is a special plan for mankind, that once in place, will have made the moments of joy followed by the hours of sorrow that we now endure, well worth the struggle.

Do not the heavens breathe life onto this earth as well as withdraw it?

Quietly we stand in awe, listening for the Tao, as it breathes life onto this planet and into it’s inhabitants.

 

Tao Te Ching (chapter four)

good vs evil

Original interpretation:

Tao (The Way) can be infused into the nature and put to use without being exhausted. It is so deep and subtle like an abyss that is the origin of all things.

It is complete and perfect as a wholeness that can Round off sharp edges;

Resolve confusion; Harmonize with the glory;

Act in unity with the lowliness.

Tao is so profound and yet in invisible, It exists in everywhere and anywhere. I do not know whose Son It is, It existed before heaven and earth.

My interpretation:

Because the Tao exists in the unknown world, it has no beginning, nor does it have an ending.

Therefore it fills the known creation from the endless source that will never run dry.

Like an ocean wave the Tao will eventually:

Blunt the sharpest object.

Untangle the largest knot.

Soften the strongest glare.

The Tao will ultimately work balance into all things.

Intuitively man senses her presence, but the Tao reveals herself so quietly, or so loudly, from so great a distance, or so closely, who can know her?

Is she the mother of God?

Tao Te Ching (chapter three)

good vs evil

Original . . .

By not adoring the worthy, people will not fall into dispute.

By not valuing the hard to get objects, people will not become robbers. By not seeing the desires of lust, one’s heart will not be confused.

Therefore the governing of the saint is to empty one’s mind, substantiate one’s virtue, weaken one’s worldly ambition and strengthen one’s essence.

He lets the people to be innocent of worldly knowledge and desire, and keeps the clever ones from making trouble with their wits.

Acts naturally without desire, then everything will be accomplished in its natural order.

My interpretation . . .

The wise man knows it’s best to lead by example rather than by words.

He understands the hearts of men and treats all, regardless of rank, equally.

He is as comfortable feasting with kings as he is sharing bread with the laborer.

He respects all men under his control, but his eyes remain open.

He watches over his men diligently, but from a distance.

The charlatan soon learns to take his evil deeds elsewhere.

Tao Te Ching (chapter Two)

good vs evil

Original . . .

As soon as beauty is known by the world as beautiful, it becomes ugly.

As soon as virtue is being known as something good, it becomes evil.

Therefore being and non-being give birth to each other.

Difficult and easy accomplish each other.

Long and short form each other.

High and low distinguish each other.

Sound and tone harmonize each other.

Before and after follow each other as a sequence.

Realizing this, the saint performs effortlessly according to the natural Way without personal desire, and practices the wordless teaching thru one’s deeds.

The saint inspires the vitality of all lives, without holding back. He nurtures all beings with no wish to take possession of.

My interpretation . . .

We only know beauty because there is ugliness.

We only know good because there is evil.

Without this duality how would we learn to make the right choices? How would we grow in wisdom? How would we experience the joy if we had not the counter weight of sorrow? For every positive in life there is a negative to accompany it.

A wise man understands the necessity for duality, but he does not succumb to its negative influence, rather he seeks a perfect balance between the two.

A wise man enjoys the learning curve he must take to create the object far more than it’s completion.

A wise man has the ability to see both sides of an argument. He knows that perception leads the hearts of men, and makes allowances for it’s deception in others as well as himself.

He is empathetic towards those who take the opposite view, and never glories in prideful conceit.

His success goes with him and his works endure forever.